For the first time in millennia, a wild bison was born in the UK

(ORDO NEWS) — Bison in the British Isles died out at the end of the last ice age, victims of a changing climate and primitive hunters.

Now these majestic beasts are returning to the habitat of their ancestors. And in September 2022, just a few months after being released into the wild, one of the female bison gave birth to a calf.

Thousands of bison ( Bison bonasus ) once roamed the European forests , but by the beginning of the 20th century they were almost completely destroyed.

These wild bulls were hunted so actively that the last surviving representatives of the species were preserved only in zoos, and it was these “last of the Mohicans” who became the founders of a new population.

Initially, bison were bred only in Eastern Europe, but in recent years they have been increasingly returned to the wild in Western European countries: small herds of bison have already appeared in France, Italy and Spain, and in July of this year four bison were released in the English county of Kent.

The return of bison to Great Britain, where they became extinct at the end of the last ice age, took place as part of a program to restore natural communities of broad-leaved forests.

At the time of the release of bison, conservationists did not suspect that one of the females was already pregnant.

The calf was found only on September 9: the baby is healthy, is already trying to gnaw on leaves and runs around the rest of the herd.

Once upon a time, bison were an important part of the British ecosystem: this “engineer species” shaped the surrounding landscape, trampling and eating young tree growth and giving the forests a “park” look.

Forest paths, watering holes and mud baths – all these places, organized by herds of wild bulls, attracted other species of wild animals, which increased the biodiversity of the forest.

Although the attitude towards the reintroduction of bison in the UK is ambiguous (some researchers believe that these animals became extinct without human intervention, due to climate change, and they cannot be considered an original part of local ecosystems), this species may well replace the tur ( Bos primigenius ) exterminated by people, who lived in Britain at least three millennia ago.

Conservationists will continue to monitor the little bison and his family to understand what effect they have on the surrounding forest and whether the reintroduction of the bison will benefit other areas of the UK.

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